As the Lok Sabha elections in India conclude four phases of polling, opposition parties seem to be plunging further into the depths of conspiracy theories and otherworldly claims that can shame even the worst written science fiction.
In the latest, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has come up with a claim that can gain entry in the top 5 most ridiculous EVM hacking conspiracy theories ever made. Pawar, speaking to a TV channel in Maharashtra, has stated that the EVMs inside a polling booth has a ‘chip’ that can be manipulated from a ‘tower’ nearby.
बारामतीच्या जागेवरुन शरद पवार यांचा धक्कादायक दावा https://t.co/8wtb6plhsh
— ABP माझा (@abpmajhatv) May 1, 2019
Adding a statutory warning to his claim, Pawar also mentions that he does not know the details of the technology but he has heard it exists. He even goes ahead to add that during the Gujarat assembly elections, some ‘honest’ officers had ‘jammed’ the signals in some of the towers outside booths, hence BJP had to face a tough fight.
Pawar also claimed that the people who were not elected, like Chandrakant Patil are claiming that the BJP will win. He adds that if BJP wins (because of EVM hacking)in Baramati, the people will lose their faith in the elections.
It is notable here that Baramati has been the Pawar bastion since decades and Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule has been the MP from the seat after Pawar left electoral politics. This time BJP’s Kanchan Kool is challenging Sule from the seat.
— iMac_too (@iMac_too) May 1, 2019
The new “hacking via towers outside booth” is only the latest in many conspiracy theories peddled by opposition leaders on EVMs. Interestingly, none of the theories are heard when BJP loses an election. They also do not offer an explanation over the question that if BJP is indeed able to ‘hack’ EVMs, why has it lost multiple state elections and why the BJP had not attempted to ‘hack’ EVMs in the elections before 2014.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Mumbai just before the third phase polls, NCP chief Pawar, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and the leaders of AAP and TMC had made similar claims. TDP’s Naidu has stated that EVMs are vulnerable to programming errors and the BJP only gets votes through manipulating EVMs. AAP’s Sanjay Singh, however, failed to invent a theory of his own and repeated the old and worn out claim, “Push any button and the vote goes to BJP”.
The theories of EVM hacking are wide and colourful. During the Gujarat assembly polls, ‘journalist’ Sagarika Ghose had attempted to peddle the theory that EVMs are picking up ‘Bluetooth signals’ and that can lead to ‘network hacking’.
Congress and the opposition leaders have been peddling the EVM hacking theories time and again after the BJP came to power with an absolute majority in 2014. Notably, when the election commission of India had thrown an open challenge to all political parties to ‘show’ how the EVMs can be hacked, none of the parties had turned up to take it. Congress’ Kapil Sibal had even tried to propagate the claims of a dubious ‘hacker’ through a press conference in the UK. However, that had ended up in massive embarrassment for the party.
Recently, Congress’ Sam Pitroda had claimed that he believes there is something wrong with the EVMs and though he cannot point it out, he can find it out if he is given an EVM to study for at least a year.